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Trump vs. DeSantis puts McCarthy in a bind

Even as McCarthy’s supporters have endorsed Trump, many Republican members are keeping away, report by T.N. Ashok

The Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy is under tremendous pressure between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the two will spar off in Iowa setting the temperature high within the party before the primaries kickoff.

McCarthy is unrelenting and a truce could be short lived as the Speaker’s allies understand why he is not offering an formal endorsement toTrump, media reports said.

The pressure on McCarthy to choose sides will only keep growing throughout the summer as the former President locks down support across the House Republicans, says Politico, a leading media outlet.

By delaying a decision, media reports have claimed that McCarthy is only risking Trump’s ire by not officially endorsing his third White House bid.

But political observers say the Speaker is fulfilling a vital mission, that is of sparing the House Republicans over a ‘civil war’ in 2024 as Trump and DeSantis up the ante with harsh words against each other.

Even as McCarthy’s supporters have endorsed Trump, many Republican members are keeping away.

Political observers say that this camp of ‘stay away from Trump’ fear embracing him could spell their electoral doom next fall — as well as allies of the former President’s rivals, from DeSantis to Doug Burgum.

Even as McCarthy risks alienating Trump by staying on the sidelines, the California Republican is shielding his members who are right now very vulnerable.

“The pressure on the speaker to choose sides will only grow throughout the summer, though, as Trump locks down support across the House Republican and questions intensify about why McCarthy isn’t fully embracing the man who helped deliver him the speakership,” the Politico said in an analysis of trends.

Probably McCarthy will choose sides at the near end of the primary, Republican Dan Meuser said, suggesting the Speaker is subtly clearing a path for his members to rally behind the former president by the end of the primary.

“Hey, you’re with DeSantis right now. That’s OK. We get that. You’re with Mike Pence, Tim Scott. But in the end, we’ve got to come together with who’s going to be our winning candidate,” Meuser was quoted as saying by media reports.

Several Republican lawmakers feel a McCarthy endorsement so early before the primaries kickin could result in a potential disunity and infighting across different factions within the party. 

McCarthy will find it difficult in the coming months to thread the needle. The speaker, it might be recalled, backtracked last week after questioning whether Trump was the strongest candidate for the party to run in 2024. 

For the Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, things are quite different.

McConnell and Trump have a history of serious differences and he was never expected to back the latter and he’s been more focused on winning back the Senate.

McConnell has taken painful paths to yank himself off Trump, though that distance from the former president is too cold for comfort and untenable.

On the contrary, McCarthy’s relationship with Trump has often affected his standing with his more conservative members.

Politico claimed that McConnell is facing a much more favorable electoral 2024 map than McCarthy, who’s in a tossup battle to hold onto the House.

McCarthy has a razor edge majority of five members, margin in the house quite tenuous for the party.

More than a dozen Republican-held battleground seats are in the deep blue, high-turnout states of New York and California.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)

If one looks at the Joe Biden friendly turf nationwide, only 18 House Republicans sitting in that green have made an endorsement in the 2024 primary.

New York Republican George Santos backed Trump in May, on the eve of his being indicted on a string of federal charges considered a death knell for his re-election.

Conservatives among the party feel that McCarthy and his leadership team are highly focused on their conference’s work before next November, against their fate with voters.

It’s not just McCarthy staying out of the primary. His two deputies, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, have also not endorsed Trump.

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